Accountability has long been the watchword in elementary and secondary education. The Los Angeles Times stirred controversy when it published rankings of school teachers based on their students’ progress in test scores. Now, the Texas A & M system plans to bring quantitative measures of effectiveness to higher education.
As reported in The Eagle, The Texas A&M University System Academic and Financial Analysis would tally up all the research funds that a professor draws along with tuition revenue from classes taught. By subtracting the faculty member’s salary from the total, university leaders would arrive at a ranking of cost effectiveness.
The plan is still in a draft phase, but it has already sparked objections. So much of the education-related activities of faculty occur outside a traditional classroom setting, but advising, mentoring, and grading are not taken into account. Moreover, the simple formula takes a crude measure of worth. A Dante scholar might not generate sponsored research or large class sizes, but her contributions to the intellectual life of the university may be great. It’s one thing to look for waste in higher education, but applying economic principles to learning impoverishes students and teachers alike.
Tags: rankings; accountability